‘Guidelines for communicating rights to non-native speakers of English’ endorsed by BAAL AGM

A set of Guidelines for communicating rights to non-native speakers of English in Australia, England and Wales, and the USA was endorsed unanimously by the BAAL AGM on 31 August 2016. A link to them has been placed on the ‘Resources’ page of this website.

The guidelines were developed by the (independent) Communication of Rights Group.

Suspects’ interview rights, referred to as police cautions in Australia, England and Wales and as Miranda Rights in the United States are country-specific mechanisms for protecting due process in criminal investigations and trials. These rights include the right not to incriminate oneself. They are protected in various national and state criminal justice systems through legislation, common law or constitutional interpretation and are considered fundamental in much of the international community. The purpose of the requirement to communicate these rights/cautions to suspects is to ensure that those in criminal proceedings know their fundamental rights under the law. A failure to protect the rights of individuals during interviews risks the integrity of any investigation.

The purpose of these guidelines, prepared by linguistic and legal experts from Australia, England and Wales, and the United States, is to articulate recommendations in terms of (a) wording of the rights/cautions (Part A) and (b) communication of the rights/cautions to non-native speakers of English (Part B). These recommendations are grounded in linguistic and psychological research on the comprehension of rights and in collective experience of working with cases involving the understanding of rights by non-native speakers of English.

Further information here.